The writs are out ; the carpenters are specially canvassed
for the hustings ; and the country is in the paroxysm of a general election : addresses, speeches, promises, compliments to "independent " and " honourable " electors, vituperation of "honourable candidates," bank-notes, blows, and special constables, begin to multiply fast. Almost as fast multiply conjectures and estimates of probable or improbable results. The changes consequent upon the retirement of old Members, it is said, will exceed any former number ; and even of those who will return to Parliament very many seek new constituencies. Such a general shifting never took place before, except in the Christmas game of "toilette." Independently of this unusual confusion and complication Of niol:e'ment, new elements of uncertainty are introduced by the totally novel' grounds upon which the candidates seek the suffrages of the electoral body—the support or opposition to the principle of Free Trade. All esti- mates of results, therefore, can be of very little worth : the dogmatic assertion of the Times that such-a-one's success is certain, and no less confident assurance of the Globe that he has no chance, are equally futile. The reparts, indeed, from' the different election- eering places seem to describe .Cortain facts ,patent to all ; and then some of these Pleasant assurances arc thrown in at 'raridoiri, to suit the taste of either party, according "tO - the paper 'which they appear : the accounts of "election: movements" are
fictions "founded on fact." One thing' only appears cer- tain, that the coming election will be the most Corrupt -that. has ever taken place. Much has been said 'and sung of the bargain and sale of the rotten boroughs before the Reform Bill : the fact that they helped the admission of a BURKE or a SHERIDAN to enliven the debates did not reconcile the Parlia,- mentary moralists of 1831 to the scandal ; and so the licence, which was thought, like a crack in a fine fiddle•orl 'green spot in a Stilton cheese, to be in advantagemil flaw in the old constitution, was abolished. Now it is all 'licence : if it was thought shocking to buy and sell five voters at Gatton in 1831, nothing is thought 3f in 1841 but the purchase of the whole electoral body : the astute and practised speculators on both sides base their estimates on the matter of money—the question of success is a mere question of length of purse : the Globe exults in the anticipated defeat of the Tories at Shrewsbury, because Sir Lova PAturr has deposited 15,0001. in the bank; Mr. CoNvaas.tells the Epping meeting. that- he will secure the return of his son-in-law; also at. Shreivsinf though he cut down every tree. On: his estate ; and difcreet lit SPOONER at Birmingham ,begs, the electors to ponder the chatf&-: i• before they involve themselves and him in useless expenses—ltft.." his quid should be without haw. If,' then, there is a shiftirig - before the electio;trere will most likely..be not a little when it is over ; and the electors whose rights are thus brought. to market before their faces Will do well tbnook sharply for evidence which may prove useful het4afler. .TI' po- litician of elevated views will lobk further : to him, the flagrant corruption of the franchise—this sowing of bribes broadcast-, " throwing bread upon the waters," as Mr. O'ContiaLt would call it—Will indicate the approach of an inevitable change. Individual converts t0 vote by ballot, in the shape of unsuccessfill candidates or severely-fleeced Members, will abound. But the change will not stop at that : the constituencies must be made to be too biig for the grasp of the seat-mongers. There is reason to -believe that the apprehension which has been entertained that many mere Whigs will crowd into the House un- der the nom de guerre of Free-traders will be realized : much of that sort of cajolery is going on. The shrewd men of Dunfermline, however, are wide awake : they have thrown up a straw which shows how sets the coming wind that is to favour the Whigs. A small Government man, Lord DALMENY, happens to be a candidate among them, and they have used him for the purpose : they tested his Anti-Corn-law sincerity by asking him to give a pledge that he would stick to the eight-shilling duty, and not consent to a comproJ mise with the agriculturists. Of course he would have no difficulty if his masters have none : he refused.